Understanding Genetics: DNA, Genes, and Their Real-World Applications

Course No. 1533
Professor David Sadava, Ph.D.
City of Hope Medical Center, Claremont Colleges
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Course No. 1533
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Beginning with a cell, explore the physical and chemical environment of a gene.
  • numbers Follow the Human Genome Project's past, present, and future - starting with the 24,000 genes expressed in every human.
  • numbers Explore how scientists can extract DNA from fossils to learn about extinct creatures.
  • numbers Delve into the implications of stem cell research and cloning, and what they could mean for our future.

Course Overview

We use it routinely to cure diseases, solve crimes, and reunite families. Yet we've known about it for only 60 years. And what we're continuing to learn about it every day has the potential to transform our health, our nutrition, our society, and our future. What is this powerful mystery?

It is DNA—deoxyribonucleic acid, the self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms. Award-winning teacher, author, and cancer researcher Dr. David Sadava unlocks its mysteries in his new course, Understanding Genetics: DNA, Genes, and Their Real-World Applications. He guides us through decades of scientific discovery and the weighty implications for us, as individuals and as a society.

< p>Genetics: The Science of Heredity

How are the traits of an organism—be it a fern or a human father—passed on to its offspring? This course outlines the history of the science of genetics and explains in detail what we have learned in recent decades about the building blocks—DNA.

Dr. Sadava, a working scientist who draws on examples from his own research, shows us how understanding genetics allows us to improve medical treatment and nutrition, vastly improving our health and quality of life.

Understanding genetics is also a critical step toward understanding our human identity. Examining our DNA—how it works and what happens when something goes wrong—enables us to see the roots of how our bodies work, why we get sick, and how traits are passed through families.

Enjoy this rare opportunity to peer over the shoulder of a working scientist; learn how he puzzles through the problems of genetics to find meaningful solutions that can save lives. Dr. Sadava shares cutting-edge research guided by his passion to help laypeople understand the meaning and importance of genetics.

Genetics' Long and Fascinating History

Our understanding of human development has certainly evolved since ancient Greek times, when Aristotle thought that the ingredients in semen were reorganized by menstrual fluid during intercourse to produce an embryo. And as late as the 17th century, Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek thought he saw tiny, fully formed babies when he looked under a microscope at sperm.

Other past civilizations, however, knew more about genetics than we might think. For example, Egyptians successfully bred the date palm 4,000 years ago to improve the quality and quantity of their fruit crop. In Asia and the Near East 3,500 years ago, horses were bred for speed in racing.

But while humans have worked to improve plant and animal characteristics for thousands of years, we've only come to truly understand what genes are made of and how they work during the past century.

Insight into a Puzzle

Understanding genetics is like sitting down to work a massive puzzle. With each piece you examine, think through, and solve, you glean a new and amazing insight into humanity. Put several pieces together, and you can treat or cure a disease, save a developing fetus from a fatal birth defect, catch a criminal, or reunite a family.

DNA, genes, proteins, amino acids, and enzymes are the vocabulary of our being—what goes on inside our bodies and how our genes are expressed. To learn this vocabulary is to be conversant in who we are and what we can become.

To help us understand the role of proteins in DNA, Professor Sadava cites the example of boiling an egg. A protein's shape is sensitive to its surroundings and can be changed by heat. When you boil an egg—made of a protein called albumin—the heat of the water changes the albumin's structure to create a completely different consistency. As Professor Sadava reminds us, "You can't unboil an egg; changes are irreversible." Next time you're making egg salad, just think—you've transformed a protein!

Dr. Sadava loves to tell tales, and the stories he uses to introduce each lecture are the highlight of the course. He weaves in history, true crime, case studies of people with life-threatening diseases, and phenomena from the natural world to make genetics come to life. Then he steadfastly supports each story with explanatory science.

Professor Sadava deftly introduces us to the puzzle that is genetics, and shows how unlocking each piece helps solve significant real-world problems that affect everyone.

Each lecture begins with a helpful story that illustrates the importance of genetics. The course explicitly outlines the connections between the science of genetics and the health-related problems that plague us in modern society, and illuminates how studying genetics can be instrumental in solving those problems.

While Understanding Genetics is a vigorous and briskly paced course, you won't need a background in biology or chemistry. You'll feel challenged, but you won't be left behind. Professor Sadava is passionate about his subject and extremely knowledgeable.

Genetics in the News

Should we allow cloning? How can we treat obesity? Why do different ethnic groups have higher rates of particular diseases than others? Countless questions of biology prompt heated discussions in the classroom, the legislature, and the courtroom. Obtaining a basic and current knowledge of how genetics works helps inform our ideas and opinions on these important issues.

Many of us are touched by diseases caused by genetic mutations or flaws—such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes, cancer, and sickle cell anemia. In the face of life-threatening, debilitating diseases, Professor Sadava gives us hope through research and discoveries made every day in the field of genetics.

He tells the story of one couple whose young son had cystic fibrosis, the most common inherited disease. Genetic testing prior to their next pregnancy enabled them to implant an embryo without the cystic fibrosis genes into the mother's uterus. The result: the couple was able to have a healthy daughter.

Only in the past few decades have scientists begun to discover and isolate the particular genes that cause certain diseases or conditions and to conduct the research that enables us to actually change genetics.

As Professor Sadava reminds us throughout the course, genetics is not destiny. How we grow and develop is strongly influenced by our environment. But understanding genetics provides us with a wealth of information that can help improve the health and quality of life for everyone.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Our Inheritance
    From earliest history, humans have bred plants and animals for desirable and productive characteristics. And they have wondered how it all works. Professor Sadava gives us a brief, fascinating history of genetics and introduces us to the three major unifying ideas in biological science, ideas which form the cornerstone of this course. x
  • 2
    Mendel and Genes
    Monk and scientist Gregor Mendel, working in the late 1800s, learned through pea-plant experiments that each parent's characteristics were particulate, that is, chemically independent. His meticulous research—the beginning of modern genetics—languished for nearly 40 years before its value was discovered. x
  • 3
    Genes and Chromosomes
    Where do you find a gene? Within each living cell is a nucleus, within the nucleus is a chromosome, and on that chromosome is the gene. Beginning with the cell, the unit of biological continuity, this lecture describes the physical and chemical environment of the gene. It shows us that you don't have to be a geneticist to figure out genetics, as a group of rabbis in A.D. 500 learned. x
  • 4
    The Search for the Gene—DNA
    How did research on smoking and lung cancer help scientists figure out that DNA, the genetic material, was damaged in the tumor cells? Professor Sadava tells us how scientists first determined what they were looking for and then found the circumstantial evidence that pointed to DNA. x
  • 5
    DNA Structure and Replication
    The double helix model for DNA is one of the most recognizable scientific icons of our time. This lecture details how Watson and Crick built on the work of earlier researchers to solve the puzzle of the structure of DNA—the double helix. x
  • 6
    DNA Expression in Proteins
    Proteins are made up of chains of 20 amino acids ordered in a particular sequence for each protein. Humans cannot produce eight of those 20 amino acids, although we still need them for proper nutrition. Professor Sadava explains what proteins are, how they relate to DNA, and why they're significant to us. x
  • 7
    Genes, Enzymes, and Metabolism
    Enzymes, which are encoded in our genes, are responsible for most chemical conversions in our bodies. An enzyme sends a signal that creates a biochemical pathway for the process of changing something we consume into something else we need or must get rid of. This lecture explains how metabolism is hard-wired into our genes. x
  • 8
    From DNA to Protein
    In 2004 traces of a poison called ricin were found in a U.S. Senate mailroom. Only 1/10,000 of an ounce of ricin can be fatal. Ricin's enzymes inhibit gene expression; as a result, when ricin is introduced to animal cells, the cells die. This lecture explains how gene expression happens. x
  • 9
    The 24,000 genes that are expressed in humans represent only 2 percent of the entire genome. This lecture explains the history of the Human Genome Project, which grew out of scientists' studies on the effects of radiation on the survivors of the atom bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. x
  • 10
    Manipulating Genes—Recombinant DNA
    By studying how bacteria successfully protect themselves from an attacking virus, scientists discovered that bacteria make an enzyme that recognizes a particular DNA sequence in the virus and cuts the DNA strand at that sequence. As a result of this discovery, scientists learned to splice DNA, creating recombinant DNA, which was initially controversial and now holds vast possibilities for the future. x
  • 11
    Isolating Genes and DNA
    Learn how genetics is used to understand and work toward the cure of a particular disease. After methods for analyzing DNA and chromosomes were developed rapidly in the 1980s, the scientific community tried a new approach called reverse genetics. As a result of this work, scientists isolated the gene that is missing in individuals who have muscular dystrophy. x
  • 12
    Biotechnology—Genetic Engineering
    Insulin that treated individuals with diabetes, whose bodies don't create insulin (or enough of it) on their own, used to come from animals. Animal insulin, however, contains a different sequence of amino acids, so some people's bodies rejected it. The method of manufacturing insulin developed at a California hospital is how all insulin used to treat diabetics is now made. x
  • 13
    Biotechnology and the Environment
    We can use bacteria to solve man-made problems, such as landmines, oil spills, toxic waste, and pollution. Scientists are working to genetically engineer organisms whose traits can be useful in cleaning up our world. x
  • 14
    Manipulating DNA by PCR and Other Methods
    What's the real science behind the dinosaurs that come to life in the movie Jurassic Park? Professor Sadava explains how scientists extract DNA from fossils, and what we can learn about ancient creatures from their genes. This lecture also covers DNA sequencing methods. x
  • 15
    DNA in Identification—Forensics
    In the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, hundreds of children were separated from their parents. When several couples were claiming one baby as their own, DNA testing enabled doctors to reunite the real parents with their baby. This kind of testing is frequently used in crime-solving today. x
  • 16
    DNA and Evolution
    Charles Darwin's travels to the Galapagos Islands helped him understand that different species come from a common ancestor. This lecture explains the genetic components of Darwin's theories. x
  • 17
    DNA and Human Evolution
    Sickle cell disease is more frequently found in African Americans than in Caucasians. After studying this incurable condition, scientists discovered that carriers of sickle cell disease were resistant to malaria, a far more life-threatening sickness. Why? In this lecture, Professor Sadava explores the role of genetic adaptation in human evolution. x
  • 18
    Molecular Medicine—Genetic Screening
    How do scientists detect particular genes that cause certain diseases? Professor Sadava details chemical processes used for genetic screening, and gives several examples of successful genetic tests and results. He describes testing for the effects of genes on drug susceptibility as the next frontier in screening technology. x
  • 19
    Molecular Medicine—The Immune System
    George Washington stemmed a smallpox epidemic by ordering his soldiers to be inoculated during an outbreak. Fifty years earlier, the slave Onesimus had advised Cotton Mather, the Puritan minister, of the practice in his homeland of rubbing dried pus from a smallpox carrier onto a cut of a healthy person. This process created antibodies that resisted the disease. Professor Sadava uses these illustrations to explain how our cells fight disease. x
  • 20
    Molecular Medicine—Cancer
    Cancer develops when cells lose control over their normally regulated reproduction. Only 10 percent of cancers are inherited, but it is a genetic disease. This lecture explains how cancer cells are created and how they can be treated. x
  • 21
    Molecular Medicine—Gene Therapy
    So far gene therapy—the process of adding protein-coding DNA and a promoter sequence for its expression to an organism for medical benefit—has experienced some success in animals and small gains in humans. Professor Sadava shares cutting-edge research and experimentation. x
  • 22
    Molecular Medicine—Cloning and Stem Cells
    Stem cells and cloning are both controversial topics in the news. How do they really work? What is the science behind these genetic procedures, and what are their implications for us? x
  • 23
    Genetics and Agriculture
    Just three crops—corn, rice, and wheat—make up two-thirds of the world's food supply. Learn in this lecture how genetic experimentation on grains has resulted in significant increases in crop yields, which has meaningful ramifications for feeding the world's hungry. x
  • 24
    Biotechnology and Agriculture
    Changes in our environment affect the plants we grow and thus the food we eat. Biotechnology has enabled us to manipulate plants to adapt to different conditions, such as tomatoes that grow in salty soil. This final lecture explores the opportunities and controversies surrounding genetically modified plants. x

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Your professor

David Sadava

About Your Professor

David Sadava, Ph.D.
City of Hope Medical Center, Claremont Colleges
Dr. David Sadava is Adjunct Professor of Cancer Cell Biology at the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, CA, and the Pritzker Family Foundation Professor of Biology, Emeritus, at The Claremont Colleges. Professor Sadava graduated from Carleton University as the science medalist with a B.S. with first-class honors in biology and chemistry. A Woodrow Wilson Fellow, he earned a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of...
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Understanding Genetics: DNA, Genes, and Their Real-World Applications is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 74.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Barely scratches the surface I bought this course after finishing another TC course called Biology, the Science of Life. I was hoping that I would learn genetics in a much greater depth. To my disappointment, I didn't learn that much new knowledge from this DVD. 2/3 of the contents are already covered from Biology, the Science of Life and that DVD did a much better job in much greater detail. The other 1/3 is new to me but the teacher barely scratched the surface and he left too many questions unanswered. Question like "after inserting genetically modified cells to a human body, what would happen to the remaining cells which are not genetically modified?" The material from this DVD is not that much better than one would see from a typical magazine or science article like those from National Geographic. Moreover, the guide book doesn't have any pictures at all which is very annoying. I would still recommend this DVD but if and only if: 1. You don't know anything about genetics AND 2. You have a very limited time to spare to learn genetics. If you have more spare time, get Biology the Science of Life. About half of the materials, about 36 lectures, in that DVD are related to genetics.
Date published: 2011-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb introduction to genetics I am a physician, but deal very little in genetics. When I bought this course, I was hoping to get a review of the fundamentals that I had forgotten over the years. Not only did this course achieve that, but Prof Sadava does in it in an enjoyable, captivating manner. I loved his format of starting each lecture with a short story. His delivery style is easy to follow and certainly professorial. He presents several examples of real-world applications of the techniques that he describes. Despite my medical background, my understanding of many concepts has been enhanced. I am hoping we will hear more from Prof Sadava.
Date published: 2011-04-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Genetics This course reviews genetics in a compelling and interesting way, but is limited in its depth and coverage. If you have an understanding of High School Biology this course will not add anything
Date published: 2011-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating Stories I listened to the audio-only version of this course and found it to be truly excellent. Professor Sadava’s stories at the beginning of each lecture really make the subject matter come alive. The stories had the intended effect of keeping the student on the edge of his seat wanting to hear more. These were not just made up anecdotes to illustrate lecture points, in many cases they were either well researched historical pieces such as one about George Washington and Smallpox or very personal stories about a family finding out about a child’s genetic disorder. Although I have listened to other Teaching Company courses with genetics and biology content, I don’t believe any of my prior knowledge was needed to get a first class introduction to genetics from this course. The explanations were concise and clear and involved only enough of the mechanisms to get the point across. The course was also an excellent introduction to the language of genetics and DNA. Everyone who may someday serve on a jury should know about Short Tandem Repeat sequences which are the basis of DNA identification. An illustration of DNA forensics is the first story in the introductory lecture and appears again in lecture 15. I found this treatment especially informative because of the review of predecessor methods of identifying trace evidence such as blood type. The lectures on Gene therapy and Stem Cell Research are very informative as are the semi-historical lectures on the Green Revolution. Gene science has made huge strides very recently and Sadava makes it clear that this is only the beginning. I highly recommend this course to anyone wanting to learn the language of modern medical or genetic research.
Date published: 2011-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I have thoroughly enjoyed this course. The presentation, content and organization is excellent. Each topic starts with a story related to the concept to be discussed. Though the material is technical, it is presented in a way that is understandable even for a non-science/math major, but with enough depth to be appeciated with someone possessing a science & math background. I enjoyed each and every segment of the course and would have wished that it is longer than 24 topics. Thank you!
Date published: 2010-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific Intro to Genetics This was a great course that delivered exactly what the title promised: I came away from it not only with a clear understanding of genetics, DNA, genes, and the mechanisms by which genes translate into observable characteristics, but also with a pretty good grounding in medical and agricultural applications of molecular biology. Dr. Sadava's presentation was superb: the combination of introductory stories, history, great graphics, and crystal-clear explanations worked really well to drive complex information home. His enthusiasm for and excitement about his field was contagious: I'd love an entire course from him on either the medical or agricultural applications of genetics.
Date published: 2010-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Genetic Gem Professor Sadava has a very well-presented course on genetics. It is loaded with examples and stories that help the material to gel. After a few lectures on genes in general, there are several on DNA: the search for the gene carrier and how DNA works to replicate and to produce proteins. (If this search for DNA is of interest, Professor Nowicki’s "Biology: the Science of Life" has a very good series of lectures on that.) This is followed by a number of lectures on manipulating DNA, biotechnology (inserting new genes into a genome) and ways of using DNA for identification (of individuals, of close relations, and estimating time since species divergence). The last seven lectures on molecular medicine and agriculture were very interesting and left me wanting more. I was sorry to have the course come to an end.
Date published: 2010-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Tour de Force I bought this course expecting an interesting survey of genetics a la Mendel with some supplementary material discussing DNA discoveries. Instead, I was treated to a remarkable and lively description of the revolutionary developments in genetic biology following the discovery of DNA. These include new medicines created with the aid of gene splicing; the reasons DNA markings are now used in crime detection; the engineering advances that permit researchers to order up their choice of DNA sequences in a single afternoon. The professor starts each lecture with a personal story to illustrate a theme for that day and to lend a human touch to what is a highly technical field. Prof. Sadava is clear and enthusiastic. This ranks as one of my favorite Teaching Company courses.
Date published: 2010-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A General Practical Perspective Prof Sadava starts each lecture with an interesting and relevant human story to introduce the topic. I liked this approach. He explains the ideas, concepts and key developments well. He also uses clear diagrams and animations which promotes understanding. It is a bit of a whirl wind tour focusing on real world applications but i liked it. Many ideas were briefly explained and I can see that many people would want greater detail - but I think this is for another coure. During initial lectures there is a bit of a problem with Prof Sadava's glasses reflecting into the camera, this is a bit distracting. I've noticed this with other Professors too. Also Prof Sadava has a tendancy to sort of shout through the lecture, it shows he is very passionate about what he does but a little more contrast in voice tone would improve the lecture. Prof Sadava has a very dry sense of humour which I liked. For those with little knowledge about genectics and applications i would highly recommend Prof Sadava's lectures.
Date published: 2010-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I've seen the future I used to hate the biology in middle school. Perhaps, I wasn't sold appropriately on the real world applications. Enjoying this course completely changed my outlook.I learned so much and got so inspired that I may even start a biotech company. I can understand my body and manage the threats to it appropriately. I can parse the health news with much greater scientific rigor. Now, on professor Sadava. I'm so grateful that Teaching Company is able to find such a distinguished educator. Genetics is a rather complex subject. Just look at the 3D structure of a protein macromolecule to see my point. Professor Sadava was able to design the course with the right level of ramping up so that students aren't initially overwhelmed but yet presented with the sufficient level of the detail later in course. The storytelling at the beginning of each lecture could use more polishing but storytelling was a necessary marketing mechanism to engage the student. If you want to better retain the subject, due to fallacy of the human memory, I'd recommend watching this lecture with other TeachCo lectures that also discuss genetics like Neurobiology or Human Physiology. Genetics is the way of future so watching this lecture is recommended for a wide variety of professionals.
Date published: 2010-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from DNA and Genetics For Poets and Physicists Alike Professor David Sadava has fulfilled all the promises in the prospectus. He is an accomplished and entertaining speaker with a great sense of humor. The course builds from concepts easily understood by anyone with high school biology to the more detailed findings and applications of modern genetics, pharmacology, medicine, and agriculture. He begins each lecture with an interesting story and ties it into the subsequent detailed lecture. The sequence of lectures relates a fascinating history of how scientists have unraveled the complexity of plant and animal life to the present time. The word “awesome’ is used so commonly about everything these days that the word is inadequate to describe the history and discoveries in this field. The illustrations are excellent and allow a cogent understanding of activities on a cellular and molecular level. The vital relationship between the findings of basic science and their subsequent applications in medicine, forensics, agriculture, and everyday life clearly add to the enjoyment and significance of the lectures. This also contains one of the best outlines I have found in the Teaching Company science courses and can be used as a handy reference in itself. Some reviewers have suggested reading a book rather than watching these lectures. However, I strongly disagree. For I believe there is no better introduction to this subject than these lectures. If one is interested in further detail, then consult books or the web. If you put in the effort of careful listening and watching, you will be well rewarded with an exciting knowledge critical to understanding the living things of this earth.
Date published: 2010-02-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Will wonders never cease? Someone has engineered plants that will glow under ultraviolet light if they grow in the presence of land mines. I had no idea we could do such clever things with genetics, and this course illuminates how they pulled that off - and many other practical applications of Genetics research. I found the course riveting. Sometimes it left me wanting more details. For instance, it described the human immune system better than I'd ever heard before, but when that lecture was over, I was still wanting to know just HOW these randomly shaped proteins know when the object they fit with is a foreign body, and HOW does that information get shared throughout the entire immune system so that more proteins of the same shape go into production? It seemed as mysterious as Einstein's "action at a distance". I'd have been fine with a course 12 lectures longer that could get into the nitty gritty details a little more. But where this course shines is on the applications of genetics research. Frankenfoods, organisms that are crafted to clean up oil spills, cures for serious diseases are just a few more examples covered. It's true, the professor is not the most charismatic horse in the Teaching Company stable, but I can easily overlook that, as the content of the lectures was quite good.
Date published: 2010-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent intro to genetics David Sadava is obviously expert at *teaching* introductory biology and genetics, and this course clearly exhibits the fruits of many years of experience with refining explanation of this subject matter in the classroom. As a middle-aged person who last took a biology course was 30+ years ago, I couldn't have asked for a better catch-up to the rapidly evolving field of genetics. Sadava has mastered the TTC format for science courses, which in my opinion can be very challenging given the need for mastery of complex concepts from preceding lectures in order to understand the following ones. Sadava succeeds by laying out a helpful framework at the outset of the course and filling it in in marked, explicit steps over the 24 lectures. Key concepts are explained with interesting real-world anecdotes and continually reinforced. And, at least to my preference, his balance of concept and detail is just right. Sadava also makes *extensive* use of graphics, which are obviously his own creation and I found extremely helpful. Virtually no complex material is covered without graphic support. Speaking of the course's excellent graphic content, I'd have to disagree with TTC's claims that this course "works well in all formats, including audio". I would have struggled mightily to follow without the graphics available in the DVD version. The breadth of example in applications for genetics -- healthcare, agriculture, industrial, etc -- in the last few lectures were both interesting in themselves and an effective way of reviewing the key concepts taught in the earlier lectures. Strongly recommended.
Date published: 2010-01-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing Biased Emphasis on "Applications" I thought long and hard about writing this review since I know some will not like it, but I have to express what I truly believe. This was the most disappointing course I have listened to date at the Teaching Company. There are so many reasons why, I actually will leave some out for fear of people thinking it is overkill. The first disappointment was the extremely brief explanation about the mechanics of DNA and RNA which should have set the whole foundation for the course. If you have an interest in this, I would STRONGLY recommend listening to "Biology: The Science of Life" as professor Nowicki describes this in excellent detail with wonderful graphics. The next disppointment was the execution and delivery of the content. Professor Sadava seemed to be frozen, nervously clutching the podium throughout the course and with a "deer in the headlights" look. There also was an annoying blue reflection off of his glasses which appeared to be a monitor somewhere in the background and it made it appear as if his eyes glowed (I don't fault him for this, just hope the Teaching Company take notes and to check for these things). He also sprinkled his lectures with, well, very "corny" jokes. He even knew these jokes were bad as he indicated when he used them in his school lectures the students rolled there eyes (I guess I would have taken the hint and eliminated them). But the *most* disappointing item was his totally biased view towards agricultural genetics. This obviously is his passion and where his research lies, and so perhaps it is difficult for him to remain unbiased, but I would have expected a bit more objectivity in a science class. He also uses faultly logic to justify his position on some of the things done. He indicates that all he and other scientists are doing is speeding up evolution as the same results would eventually be achieved by cross breeding plants, but that would be too time consuming. I guess I could buy that if he was simply (for example) taking genes from one wheat plant and splicing them into another wheat plant. But, when you start splicing genes in from one plant family into another, not to mention animal genes into plants, the "speeding up evolution" explanation kind of falls apart. And, to my recollection, he never addresses the environmental impact of introducing his genetically modified plants into an area. Yes, he does admit that some people do not agree with his some of his positions and spends (out of 24 lectures) approximately 3 minutes (I timed it) in one lecture to address opposing viewpoints. In my opinion, the best part of the lecture series was the part on molecular medicine. I did not realize how close we were to addressing some of the serious diseases such as muscular dystrophy. And I appreciated his pointing out how this procedure could be used for things not originally intended such as producing super athletes. However, I have to admit I did cringe a bit at his inference that human cloning is ethically no different than what we do today with implanting test tube baby embryos, so perceives human cloning may be acceptable, once it is technologically possible. If conclusion, I would like to say if you have no background in genetics and watch this course, please pursue reading other books and/or watching or attending other classes or lectures on the subject to ensure a balanced learning.
Date published: 2009-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great addition to your TTC library. I watch very little television, and hence very few television shows. One series that keeps my interest and which I enjoy immensely is CSI: The Original Series. I find it down to earth and educational. I would describe “Understanding Genetics: DNA, Genes and Their Real-World Applications” with David Sadava (DVD version) in the same way. It kept my interest and was educational. I have wondered what the terms used in DNA analysis meant and how they were deemed to be fingerprints of the genetic kind. I needed to know more. This course gave me what I wanted to know. The professor, while he did have his own brand of humour, at least he had one! I enjoy that each professor has their own manner of delivering the material. In this course, it was delivered very much like a lecture and the professor was able to keep my interest with lay person comparisons to explain what might otherwise be complicated topics. He was consistent in summarizing what he said for each lecture and I appreciated that. I was surprised to realize how ignorant I was of genetics, and that the knowledge has been around for about 60 years already. I thought it just came out during my generation, much like George Michael. David Sadava covered how genetics is used routinely to cure diseases, solve crimes, and reunite families as well as explaining in sufficient detail how genetics has the potential to transform our health, our nutrition, our society, and our future. An explanation of how traits of an organism are passed to its offspring, how DNA replicates itself, the amazingly simple technique by which it replicates, the double helix structure, what happens when something goes wrong and how genetics is being used to help cure disease. Humans have worked to improve plant and animal characteristics for thousands of years with cross breeding techniques. Little did I realize that these were experiments in genetics. We've only come to truly understand what genes are made of and how they work during the past century. Dr. Sadava weaves in history, true crime, case studies of people with life-threatening diseases, and phenomena from the natural world to make genetics come to life, supporting each story with the explanatory science. I appreciated how he covered modern day topics in the news such as genetics and cloning, why different ethnic groups have higher rates of particular diseases than others and countless questions of genetics prompted discussions in the classroom, the legislature, and the courtroom. Obtaining a basic and current knowledge of how genetics works helps inform our ideas and opinions on these important issues. As with every other TTC course, I have purchased additional reading material to delve deeper into the subject thanks to the professors ability and the excellent job he did with satisfying and intensifying my curiousity. I will certainly be reviewing some of the lectures to firm my understanding of the relationship between genes, chromosomes, DNA, enzymes, protein, RNA along with genetic engineering, forensics, evolution, molecular medicine and agriculture. An excellent set of lectures for anyone's TTC library.
Date published: 2009-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Decypting the Code of LIfe I thoroughly enjoyed these lectures. Prof Sadava was clear and insightful. Before I watched this lecture series had read several books on genetics and considered myself to be an educated layman, I was thus surprised how much new material I learned. When I had finished them all my main regret was that there were not more to watch.
Date published: 2009-05-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Misses the forest for the trees This course was too often dull or confusing. I think that Professor Sadava is too enmeshed in details (I believe he has an active research career), so he fails to focus on the big picture enough. The course seemed more like a series of stories about what he and others in his field have been working on in the past few years, and less like a picture of genetics as a whole and its importance.
Date published: 2009-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Genetics A thoughtful concise presentation on an esoteric subject. I commend it to all who seek an understanding of this modern science.
Date published: 2009-02-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I felt this could have gone more in depth - as a layman who eats this stuff up, I don't think I learned all that much about the genetic processes. That said, the applications and agriculture sections were far more interesting than I expected them to be.
Date published: 2009-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent material and presentation. Even understandable by an 80 year old.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr. Sadava deserves high praise for this course. He is indeed one of the best instructors in your cadre of teachers.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from My best recommendation is that I keep buying your courses.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof Sadava presents the course in a style that is clear and concise - with excellent graphics! Loved his sense of humor too!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly outstanding for the 3 courses I have bought. As a retired professor with 44 yrs teaching experience, your courses are exceptionally good.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Brings me up to date developments in which I'm interested.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I have a BS Science and Math and and MBA. Your courses are just as good or sometimes better than being in an actual classroom. I can't replay a classroom lecture but I can listen to one of your lectures as often as needed.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! I'm impressed with the ability of Dr. Sadava to make a complicated subject so easy and fully comprehensive. Excellent teacher!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Most excellent and clear course - Subject matter very understandable. Examples were Excellent. I really learned a lot about a subject that was unclear to me in the past.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I wish every adult had access to the information in this course. It would clear up so many misconceptions
Date published: 2008-10-17
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